Three senior gentlemen are out walking. The first one says, “Windy, isn’t it?”
The second one says, “No, it’s Thursday.”
The third one says, “So am I! Let’s go get a beer!”
Cue the joke drum sound––ba dum tss!
If that cornball humor cracked a smile or launched a full-on belly laugh with you, congratulations! You just did your body good.
Clinically, you lowered your adrenaline and cortisol levels and boosted your endorphins.
In plain-speak, you sharpened your mental powers –memory, alertness, positivity – and decreased your blood pressure and stress. You improved your self-esteem. You may have even burned a few calories. (Do we have your attention?)
Laughter is good medicine! And in today’s blog we’re going to help you laugh your way to better health.
Taking Seriously the Health Benefits of Laughter
With so many proven health benefits, cultivating a life-time habit of humor is something the science and medical communities are taking very seriously. There are dozens of supportive studies, from the Veterans Administration (The Healing Benefits of Humor), the Mayo Clinic (Laughter for Stress Relief is No Joke), to Harvard (A Laugh a Day Keeps the Doctor Away), Vanderbilt (Laugh Out Loud to Burn a Few Calories) and Stanford University’s (Seven Ways Laughter Can Improve Your Well-Being). Even the stoic National Institutes of Health (The Laughter Prescription) wants us all to lighten up!
Laughter Therapy, Laughter Yoga
Physicians are starting to prescribe what’s called laughter therapy for their patients, comedy acts by and for senior citizens are helping people find the humor in aging, there’s even Laughter Yoga, an exercise program wildly popular in more than 100 countries. Many participants “ho ho, hee hee and ha ha ha” their way to relief from loneliness, depression, pain, even serious illnesses.
RX: Megadose of Laughter, Especially in March
At Marquis, we’ve long known and practiced the healing powers of laughter. We weave it into our patients’ lives with the pun of the day, cartoons, music, videos and fun socials. And we can’t wait to bring back Marquis’ annual fundraiser, “Laughter is the Best Medicine.” Proceeds help fund programs that bring joy to those living and working in senior care.
We also use laughter, clinically.
“Laughter is one of the things we actually medically chart for our patients,” says Marquis Companies Recreational Activities expert, Lynne Jensen. “We know when someone laughs, they’re feeling better, mentally and physically.”
March “Laughter” Madness
But in March, we kick into high gear, going all-out for the belly laughs. We celebrate National Let’s Laugh Day, Share a Smile Day, Act Happy Day and, on March 20, one of our favorites, Wellderly Day ––promoting the health benefits of happiness, humor and laughter and reminding ourselves that “wellness” and “elderly” are not mutually exclusive.
“I start and end my day, every day, with hilarious videos my younger sister sends me. I just love feeling like a kid again,” says Lynne.
“All you have to do is become more aware of what makes you break out into a smile and laugh. Find and do more of that.”
Lynne’s 5 Tips to Enjoying More Laughter
#1 Be Intentional
- Create a list of the things that make you smile, laugh, or feel joy. Now, make a plan to incorporate those things into your week. It can be as simple as looking in the mirror first thing in the morning and making ridiculous faces or dancing, laughing outloud or intentionally smiling. It feels good. Try it!
- Remember that cultivating happiness, boosts your immunity, lowers stress hormones, decreases pain, relaxes muscles and prevents heart disease.
#2 Begin Your Day with a Laugh and Smile
- Laughter, especially in the morning, stops distressing emotions, helps us relax and recharge, it shifts our perspective to more positivity and it draws us closer to others.
- Sip your coffee or tea out of a fun mug, read a daily positive affirmation, dance to fun music, ask Alexa/Google for the joke of the day, play with your pet(s) or kids and read fun social media content, a daily calendar funny or comic strip. (Here are a few of Lynne’s.)
#3 Seek Relationships That Trigger Laughter and Joy
- Look around. Who are the people others love being around because they’re kind and funny? Laughter promotes healthy bonding and enriches our relationships.
- Find friends with whom you can share funny stories, memories and the positives of each day; dance together to fun music; watch funny shows or movies; play fun games; make funny faces at each other; share a new hobby; send each other fun greeting cards; attend uplifting concerts or plays.
#4 Make Yourself Laugh and Experience Joy
- Laughter doesn’t have to be something where you wait for it to happen. Create it yourself and it starts to become easier.
- Buy and wear fun clothes or hats, dance like nobody is watching, post fun jokes, cards, or posters around your house, play with your pet, take a walk and experience the beauty and humor around you, watch funny videos or listen to music while you work out, give yourself permission to laugh –– including at yourself!
#5 Use Humor to Overcome Challenges and Enhance Your Life
- The best way to take yourself less seriously is to talk about times when you took yourself too seriously.
- Attempt to laugh at situations rather than bemoan them. Look for the humor in challenging times and uncover the irony and absurdity of life.
- Surround yourself with reminders to lighten up –– pictures or items that make you smile or laugh.
- Don’t dwell on the negative. Try to avoid sour people and don’t focus on news stories, entertainment or conversations that make you sad or unhappy.
- Find your inner child. Take life lightly, laughing at ordinary things. Be playful!
You can check out more tips at the Act Happy website, created by the founder of Wellderly Day.
How are you feeling? Ready to start creating and delivering your own repertoire of goofball jokes?
It’s good medicine. It’s free. And the only side effects are pure joy!